Demetri '88 and Kim
Coupounas '89 create new outdoor gear
Demetri Coupounas '88 sets lofty goals: figure out how to balance
the federal budget, climb Kilimanjaro on his honeymoon, and backpack
with no more than a 10-pound pack. To date, he's met all three.
As policy director for the bipartisan Concord Coalition, he divined
a way to eliminate the federal deficit. Christmas Eve 1992 "Coup"
and his wife, Kim Riether-Coupounas '89, summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro
on their honeymoon. And through GoLite, a Boulder, Colorado-based
start-up, the couple is three years into creating super light camping
Passionate backpackers, Coup and Kim got the idea for GoLite from
Ray Jardine's Pacific Crest Trail Backpacker's Handbook, which promotes
light gear so backpackers can hike farther and more comfortably.
The most devout followers of Jardine make their own equipment; but
Coup speculated regular folks would prefer simply purchasing theirs.
In 1998 with the federal budget on its way to being balanced, Coup
penned a letter to Jardine and asked for his blessing and cooperation
in the new business. At the time, Coup was living in Washington,
D.C., and Kim was in Boston, working for the Shackleton School,
an experiential, expedition-based high school.
Coup and Kim, who both earned graduate degrees in public policy
and business from Harvard, were not particularly in love with the
East Coast and ready for new challenges. "We started thinking
out the box," said Kim of their move west in 1998.
GoLite produces outdoor clothing and equipment, including backpacks
for hiking and rock climbing, shelter canopies, and "sleep
systems." On the company Web site (www.golite.com), each item
is listed with its weight in ounces. A typical multi-day backpack
without food and water weighs 40 pounds or more. With GoLite's system,
you can gear up carrying under 10 pounds. Their philosophy: less
weight means more fun.
In 2000, the start-up operated with four employees and met its
target of $1 million in sales. This year the company, having grown
to 17 employees, including Mike Errecart '01, is on track to show
its first profit with projected sales of $6 million.
By Elizabeth Covington '85
Elizabeth Covington is a freelance writer who lives in Ophir,